French onion soup

Fr onion soup

Every where I turned last week I ran into French onion soup: commercials, blogs, cookbooks. It almost seemed surreal but certainly not bad.

For me, French onion soup has a retro appeal that’s hard to beat. When made well, it’s a rich, full-flavoured broth that begs tender, sweet onions to bask and linger. Instead of covering it with a heavy, greasy layer of cheese, I prefer to make a Gruyere-topped crostini that you can either float on top of the soup or stand up on one side of the bowl.

Regardless of how you position the cheese and bread, be sure to choose good quality Gruyere cheese. I think it’s much yummier than regular Swiss cheese. Given a choice, I buy Gruyere that has been aged for 10 to 12 months since it has a rich, nutty flavor. Gruyere also has a medium fat content so that complements the flavour of the onions without overwhelming their zesty taste.

French onion soup

3 tbsp (30 mL) butter
2 Spanish or 3 medium cooking onions, peeled
and sliced
2 clove garlic, minced
11/2 tsp (7 mL) dried thyme
1/2 tsp (2 mL) each salt and pepper
1 tbsp (15 mL) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (75 mL) sherry
1 tsp (5 mL) Worcestershire sauce
6 cups (1.5 L) beef broth
6 slices, thick baguette
1 cup (250 mL) shredded Gruyere or other Swiss cheese*
1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Melt butter in a Dutch oven set over medium-low heat. Add onions, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, for 20 minutes or until onions are translucent and very soft. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until onions are just beginning to brown. Sprinkle in sugar and continue to cook, stirring often, until very brown but not scorched.

Add sherry and Worcestershire sauce. Stir to scrape up any brown bits. Add the broth and bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

Preheat the broiler to high. Toast the baguette slices on a baking sheet until golden on each side. Sprinkle cheese and parsley (if using) even over the toasts. Broil until cheese is bubbly and golden. Ladle an equal amount of soup into each bowl. Top with a cheese crouton and serve immediately. Makes 6 servings.

* This recipe appeared in Dana’s Top Ten Table.


12 Responses to French onion soup

  1. Rosa says:

    A tasty soup! Very nicely presented!



  2. I tend to bristle at the term “French Onion Soup” since the version presented with the term—elsewhere as well as here—has very little to do with the onion soups generally found in France. Onion soup, along with its cousin garlic soup, were traditionally the soup of the poor and prepared with either just water or chicken stock. The beef stock version is a North American invention.

  3. North American invention or not, this looks great. Charmian posted a version a few weeks ago, and that my got mouth watering, too. I think the universe is conspiring to tell me something.

  4. Love how you put the bread in on the side. It shows off the onions so much better.

    Cheryl’s right. I was part of the universal push towards this soup.

    Thanks to Peter for the historical note. I always learn something here — both in the post and the comments.

  5. Sigh, now I know what I REALLY want for lunch.

  6. Charmaine Broughton says:

    Our French Onion Casserole is one of our BEST sellers! Retro all the way–so good with a side salad, grilled steak and a glass of wine!

  7. Barb says:

    I sometimes notice one idea coming from several different sources as well. It must be a sign that we should definitely be making this soon.

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